Vasser ready to bring home bragging rights

at Bridgestone 400 Presented By Corona

He may think he¿s two years shy of being considered a Las Vegas local, but that doesn¿t mean Champ Car World Series driver Jimmy Vasser isn¿t looking forward to some hometown bragging rights if he wins the Bridgestone 400 presented by Corona on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

"My friends have told me you have to live here 10 years to be considered a local," Vasser said, "but I think eight years is a long time. There are hometown bragging rights on the line coming into the race."

Vasser, along with fellow Las Vegans Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier, are hoping to bring home the first Champ Car trophy presented at LVMS during the Double Down in the Desert. The Champ Cars will run following the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Las Vegas 350.

"I was a little skeptical at first but I am really surprised at the number of people who want to come to this race," Vasser said. "The Craftsman Truck Series is some of the best racing going on and to have two races in one night is a fantastic ticket for the fans. It will be an eclectic group of people in the stands. I¿m looking forward to it."

The Champ Car race will be a change of pace for NASCAR fans who have never seen open-wheel racing before. The cars are expected to race at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour and likely will be packed close together.

"The aerodynamic package Champ Car has chosen has a lot of downforce," Vasser said. "It will keep the cars close together and show the fans some real close racing. Ultimate speed is not the only thing."

Las Vegas will be the only superspeedway the Champ Cars will race during the 2004 season. The last Champ Car race on a superspeedway was in 2003 at Lausitz, Germany. Most Champ Car events are held on permanent road courses and temporary street courses. The superspeedway will allow the cars to try all available racing lines on the track and possibly race three wide in the straightaways.

"What I¿ve liked most about Champ Cars in the past is the diversity of racing," Vasser said. "Adding superspeedways completes the four disciplines of racing."

Vasser has spent 13 seasons in the Champ Cars World Series and its predecessor CART. He won the CART championship in 1996 and is one of only six drivers to have made over 200 Champ Car starts.